Fine & Performing Arts
Baruch College, CUNY
“Eat Your Vegetables: Sneaking in Conceptual Thinking during Technical Instruction” is an experiential progression of graphic design projects that helps to introduce and refine the technical skills essential to professional practice. More important, it overlays other 21st century skills, adding pedagogical depth to the skill-building through an implicit layer of meaning-making, critical thinking, and abstract and symbolic thinking.
My introductory graphic design class is mandated to build the skills to communicate ideas and cover the essence of branding (a highly competitive game of attention-getting, recognition and trust), and the class is enriched by the addition of a critical thinking element. Students imagine, conceptualize, then filter and form allegiances to a random “theme word” assigned at the beginning of the semester. The challenge of deepening the development of this key word threads through 15 weeks of instruction, intersecting critical thinking with learning technical skills. This approach also allows the mimicking of a real-life designer/client relationship, using the theme word as a surrogate client. Students also learn and use tools for thinking in the curricular sequence, some borrowed from other domains such as the writing process of “word mapping”.
Attendees will learn, in this illustrated lecture, that the complexities of contemporary professional practice and the competitive global business context demand a critical and creative approach to foundational coursework––well-prepared hands, eyes, and minds.This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.1: Kean University on Saturday, Oct 22, 2016.